By Stephen Markley on May 10, 2010
Toyota wants to introduce a hydrogen fuel-cell sedan to its lineup by 2015 with a sticker price of around $50,000. The car will have zero emissions and the range and refueling time of a gas-powered vehicle, giving it an advantage over an electric car.
Toyota says the price is possible because the cost of making fuel-cell vehicles has fallen by 90% in the past decade, and the automaker says it can save more money by cutting the amount of platinum used in the fuel cells and moving from low-volume assembly to mass production. Originally, building a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle cost Toyota roughly $1 million.
“Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle. Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle,” Yoshihiko Masuda, Toyota’s managing director for advanced autos, told Bloomberg News.
Of course, customers have to buy that vehicle as well. The prospects of a $50,000 car with limited options for refueling seem suspect right now. It’s possible that by 2015 some kind of bare-bones hydrogen infrastructure could develop in some regions of the country, but even if Toyota gets the cost of a vehicle down to $50,000, many hurdles remain before hydrogen adoption begins on any significant scale.
Even Masuda admitted that the market for the fuel-cell sedan would at first be “small, but with some support.” GM, Mazda and Honda have been on the hydrogen path for some time, but the nearly non-existent infrastructure in the U.S. has prevented retail thoughts ... along with the nearly $1 million cost for their vehicles as well.